MY CLASSIC : MABEL

I'd like to introduce you to Mabel. She's an Austin A30, born in September 1956 and first registered the following month.

 

She appears to have spent the bulk of her life in London, with a short spell in Coventry, and an even shorter one n Newtown (Powys).

I found her languishing in a lean-to shed, pretty much forgotten and covered in twigs and dust. A folder of documents and receipts detailed a large portion of her life, showing that she had been very much cherished by previous owners.

Although my true passion is veteran and vintage cars, somehow I couldn't bring myself to leave her like that. She deserved to be cared for and driven. I hadn't intended to acquire yet another car, but I was hooked.

 

The deal was struck and I was soon back with my big car trailer to collect her and take her home. She looked so tiny on a 23ft trailer, it was rather absurd, yet all the way home, people paused to look and smiled or waved.

Now she's on the road, a daily runner, and people still smile and wave. When I park up people want to stop me and talk about her and tell me about Austin A30s they've known. "Cute" is the adjective people most often use about Mabel.

 

Now I'm a big bloke - 6ft 2ins in my socks - and cute isn't a word I hear often around me! It suits Mabel though. She's tiny, perfectly proportioned and her bubbling exhaust lets everyone know when she goes to town.

Athough generally well tended, the dreaded tinworm had played havoc with her sills, rear spring hangers, inner arches and front panels. But, thanks to the many layers of thick, gloopy underseal smeared over her nether regions, Mabel was in excellent structural condition.

Her interior had not fared nearly as well, and was in terrible condition. Oddly though, her original, fuzzy headlining was completely unscathed.

1956 Austin A30 car

Mabel came to me with her original 803cc engine and pudding spoon shift gearbox. The noises coming from the box, plus the metal shards in the gearbox oil, suggested that her gearbox had not been touched in a long time! Judging by the wear in the front suspension and rear axle, I suspect they may have been original too.

Mabel's running gear was tired to say the least, and was clearly going to have a hard time coping with daily use in today's traffic. She needed a touch more poke, better anchors, new wiring and some suspension that could make her a bit more fun in handling. She also definitely needed comfy (not mouse-eaten!) seats and seat belts.

 

Everything has been done to make her a safe drive, and everything I've done is reversable. All original parts that were removed have been stored away.

If you're one who likes their classic cars to be kept totally original, look away now, because Mabel isn't stock. I wanted to turn her into a daily driver and to do that, this little Austin needed to be gently introduced to the late twentieth century at the very least.

Do I like the end result?

Heck, yes! Mabel handles like a dream, goes like a miniature rocket, and susprises a few folk when she breezes past them. Plus, I still get 40mpg... depending on the hooligan in me!

  • Floor pan repaired; strengthening plates added to known weak areas

  • Body panels repaired, but the odd ding left in to retain some of her orginal history

  • Rear suspension shock absorber mounts redesigned to accept adjustable gas struts

  • Rear axle up-rated to MG Midget with 3.75 diff & lowered 20mm

  • MG midget front & rear brakes installed with high performance shoes and pads

  • Dual circuit brakes, courtesy of a Mini, complete with pedal assembly

  • Hydraulic clutch

  • 1098 Morris Minor engine rebored +40thou with new mains, ends, Piper 270 cam, skimmed block, 12G202 skimmed head, lightened flywheel, ported & polished

  • High pressure oil & water pumps

  • HIF38 carburettor fitted to a Torquemaster inlet manifold

  • Large bore four-to-one extractor exhaust manifold

  • Original gearbox stripped, replaced with modern bearings, clusters and synchro

  • Alternator fitted plus modern wiring system

  • Various gauges to let me keep an eye on things

  • Late MG seats and seatbelts

  • Copious amounts of sound-proofing material packed everywhere

  • New carpets and ineterior trim

  • Topped off with Rostyle wheels and the widest tyres I could safely put on the rims

Ewan & Mabel

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